Last years’ high profile rape investigation of NHL superstar, Patrick Kane, brought the issue of sexual assault and rape by hockey players into the public eye. But this isn’t just about Patrick Kane, who was ultimately not charged.
Another NHL player, convicted spousal abuser Slava Voynov, remains property of the Los Angeles Kings even after he fled home to Russia one step ahead of deportation.
And then there is Mike Ribeiro, who starred for the Nashville Predators throughout the duration of a now-settled civil suit regarding his alleged sexual assault of his children’s nanny. Ribeiro was re-signed by Nashville in the summer of 2015, when the team and the public already knew all about his situation with the babysitter.
Unlike other sports leagues like the NFL, the National Hockey League does not have a formal personal conduct policy or one specifically addressing domestic violence or sexual assault.
It is unacceptable for our nation’s sports leagues to be sitting passively by in these situations. For female fans. For male fans. For all of us.
It is now time to press for change.
To do better.
Hockey fan, Melissa Geschwind, took up this cause and started a Change.Org Petition to the NHL to “Take violence against woman seriously.” The full text of the Petition, which has garnered over 36,000 signatures to date, is here:
In early August, Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane was accused of raping a woman, another allegation of sexual violence in a sport that seems unwilling to change for the better. Despite the fact that he was under investigation for a serious crime for months, Kane did not miss a single day on the ice. On the contrary, his team never paused in actively promoting him.
It has become increasingly difficult for hockey fans like me — especially women, who make up roughly 1 in 3 NHL fans — to cheer for teams that shrug off serious allegations of their players assaulting women. These teams often place on-ice competition and business interests above basic decency. And we’ve had enough of it.
As public incidences of violence against women continue to bring shame to the hockey community, the National Hockey League has steadfastly refused to change. Not anymore. We are petitioning the NHL to institute a clear, comprehensive policy of zero tolerance for players who commit acts of intimate partner violence or sexual assault.
This would mean that the NHL would have suspended a suspected sexual abuser like Kane – with pay – until the police investigation was complete. It would mean that a team that violates the terms of a domestic abuser’s suspension, as the Los Angeles Kings did with Slava Voynov, would receive a harsh, truly consequential punishment. It would also mean that a player convicted of such a crime would not be allowed to rejoin his team in any capacity until he has served his sentence.
Some Blackhawks fans have spoken eloquently about walking away from the team they used to love. As a lifelong New Jersey Devils fan I know how strong the bond between fan and team can be, but I also know that our moral center needs to be stronger. If the NHL doesn’t take real action to help deter sexual assault and violence against women among its players then I, and many others, will feel forced to cut all ties with the league and the teams we feel so passionately about.
We want the NHL to send a message to players — and to the public — that we are through tolerating this unacceptable behavior. The way that the league and its teams treat issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexism and misogyny has a real effect on fans, especially the youngest, most impressionable ones. We care, and Commissioner Bettman should, too. He should respect us enough to hear us out. Sign this petition if you agree. Thank you.
In addition, letters like the one below were sent to every team in the NHL:
Dear Dr. and Dr. Samueli, Mr. Schulman, Mr. Murray, and the Anaheim Ducks organization,
Last October I started a petition on change.org regarding how the NHL and its member teams address sexual assault and domestic violence among their players. The petition has garnered more than 36,000 signatures as well as attention in print, electronic and broadcast media. In April I met with Commissioner Bettman at the NHL’s New York office to discuss the petition and the larger issue of violence against women.
I left that meeting feeling very hopeful, but since then the NHL has kept silent on this topic even as more incidents continue to surface. Your fans haven’t forgotten, though, and they’re counting on you to advocate for them both within the Ducks organization and as a member of the league. Please take a few minutes to read the letters below and allow fans to tell you in their own words how they feel about spending time, money, and emotion on a league that refuses to publicly denounce sexual assault and domestic violence.
There are simple, concrete steps you can take to let fans know that the Ducks will not tolerate violence against women:
- Do not draft, sign, trade for, or re-sign players with a history of sexual assault or domestic violence
- Suspend any player under police investigation for committing an act of off-ice violence
- Sever all ties with anyone who is convicted of these crimes
- Establish a relationship with Anaheim-area charities and shelters that serve victims of these crimes
- Urge the NHL to take a public stance against these crimes, because silence is a statement in itself
If you’d like to reach out to one or more of the authors below please don’t hesitate to ask. If you’d like to address the larger issue through me or change.org, I’ll be glad to facilitate that as well. Please contact me any time to confirm receipt of this email and/or discuss the topic further.
Thank you very much for your time,
Let’s help to lead social change in this area that’s long overdue. Join us in taking action to push for change.
Please sign the Petition.
Please send your own letters to your local NHL teams.
Feel free to copy [email protected] when you send in your letter to your local team.
Below is a list of contacts for each NHL team. :